CDC Changing Stance on Ebola

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be issuing new guidelines for health workers as early as tomorrow – October 18 – regarding how health care workers should protect themselves and the public when treating patients infected with or possibly infected with Ebola.

From the Wall Street Journal:

CDC to Issue New Guidelines for Health Workers Dealing With Ebola

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it would issue new guidelines for health-care workers dealing with Ebola patients as soon as Saturday.

The agency has been consulting with the American Nurses Association, the American Hospital Association and other professional groups this week and was still going over comments Friday evening.

The nurses’ association has urged the CDC to adopt a single, consistent standard for the personal-protective gear health-care workers should wear when caring for Ebola patients, rather than giving them a range of choices, depending on a patient’s condition.

[read more]

It is great that the CDC is working to protect health workers and the general public from infection.  What I wonder is why they were not just as active in protecting people a week ago, when the CDC seemed more concerned about assuring the public that there was nothing to worry about:

Ebola poses no substantial risk to the U.S. general population. CDC recognizes that Ebola causes a lot of public worry and concern, but CDC’s mission is to protect the health of all Americans, including those who may become ill while overseas. Ebola patients can be transported and managed safely when appropriate precautions are used.

<snip>

Ebola is not spread through casual contact; therefore, the risk of an outbreak in the U.S. is very low.

[read the full CDC Press Statement]

Of course, now we know that Ebola has not just been imported into the US, it has spread in the US.  A nurse in Dallas who treated an infected patient is now herself infected.  Worse, she flew from Dallas to Cleveland (on Frontier 1142 October 10), stayed in Cleveland, and flew back to Dallas (on Frontier 1143 October 13) – infecting who knows how many more people along the way.  And worse of all: she called the CDC to say she had a fever and ask is she should avoid flying back to Dallas!  And now, a second healthcare worker has been diagnosed with the disease.

Everyone who flew on either Frontier 1142 on October 10 (Dallas to Cleveland) or Fontier 1143 on October 13 (Cleveland to Dallas) have been asked to contact the CDC by calling 1 800 CDC-INFO.

The CDC now seems to serious about this disease.  Healthcare workers need to be serious about it; they are the people most at risk.  We all need to be vigilant in watching for people with symptoms (including ourselves) and avoid contact with bodily fluids of others.

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